The Emmy- and SAG award-winning actress on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, which returns for its fifth season this month, hails Oprah, the Obamas, and Nivea Cream.
1. If I weren't an actress, I'd be: A lawyer, without question.
2. Most gracious response to rejection/career setback: It wasn't a "no" it was a "not right now."
3. Least gracious response to rejection/career setback: "Girl..." cue eye roll.
4. The three qualities that got me where I am today: My family, my faith, my love.
5. Moment I felt I made it: When my mom got to meet our hero, Oprah Winfrey, and when we were given the honor of going to White House to meet our President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama. Still feels like a dream.
6. Most agonizing career decision I've ever made: The one and only time I ever quit acting. We've all wavered, but it was the only time I'd done it in my heart.
7. Easiest career decision I've ever made: Saying "Yes" to Orange Is the New Black.
8. Kind of work I'd do for free: Acting. (I'm fairly certain that I should NOT be saying that out loud.)
9. Favorite perk of the job: Getting the chance to bring all the wild voices and characters inside my head that drove my mom crazy out into the world.
10. Worst pitfall of the job: The idea that I'm here to convince anyone of anything.
11. What my career looks like in 5 years: Telling as many different varied stories as possible in as many different mediums and seats as I can.
12. Change I'd like to see in my industry: More stories told from more unexpected faces and storytellers.
13. How I made my first dollar: Selling old board games my siblings and I no longer played. It was a repurposing operation, mainly.
14. Who I admire and why: Ms. Oprah Winfrey and my mom. They've kept it honest. The whole way.
15. Last thing I binge-watched: The Crown.
16. Book that left a lasting impression on me: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
17. Song that always makes me cry: "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt.
"Never let anyone's impression of you stop you."
18. Movie with the greatest ending: Love Actually(gets me every single time!).
19. Song I want played at my funeral: Sade's "By Your Side"
20. First album I bought: TLC. 'Cause Ooooooo...On The TLC Tipwas basically an anthem.
21. On my bucket list: Visit every continent in the world.
22. If I could live anywhere abroad, it would be: Paris, Nigeria, or London. Yes, that's three but I love them all like children!
23. What every woman should try in her lifetime: Never letting anyone's impression of you stop you.
24. My perfect day would begin: Somewhere in Hawaii...
25. My perfect day would end: Outside grilling with music and friends.
26. One thing I'm exceptionally good at: Whistling through my two front teeth. I've had a lifetime of practice.
27. Superhero power I'd want to have: Flying.
28. How I clear my mind after a crappy day: Music. Always music.
29. Something nice I did for myself recently, because hey, why not: Took myself on vacation to Puerto Rico for the first time. Time well spent.
30. If I could compete in an Olympic sport, I'd like it to be: Figure Skating.
31. The last time I felt beautiful was: Right now as I write this. I had a beautiful night yesterday.
32. The beauty essential you'd have to pry out of my cold, dead hands: Nivea cream. Not lotion. Never has there been a better solution to dry skin.
33. My first kiss: My mom's reading. No way.
34. The three qualities I thought I wanted in a partner: Good-looking, loves to travel, a working professional.
35. The three qualities I know now matter: Someone who considers me, knows my worth, and is a good person.
36. Advice to a woman with a broken heart: Dare to love again.
37. Relationship advice to my younger self: Set your bar HIGH.
38. Moment I knew I was in love: When it all felt easy.
39. The craziest thing I did for love: Put him on my cellphone plan when I knew he didn't have a job. Girl... cue: eye roll.
40. What my high school boyfriend would say about me: Again, my mom is reading, guys!
A version of this article appears in the June issue ofMarie Claire, on newsstands May 16.